Let’s face it: appearances matter.  From the cars we drive to the food we eat, images play a central role in our perception of the world around us.  When we go on a job interview, we dress professionally so that even our clothing exudes competence and expertise.  Our homes and offices are no exception to the judgments we pass based on appearance; like our wardrobe, these spaces reflect our personal and professional lives.  Though we are told not to judge a book by its cover, in business, first impressions are   very significant.

My son and I recently visited a doctor who is well-renowned in his field, while his credentials were indisputable; his office was a poor reflection of his professionalism and ability. It was messy, cluttered, and frankly, not what we expected of a doctor with such prestige. Though well-respected in his field, this doctor’s disorganized office left me and my son questioning his medical capabilities.

When designing your own office space, it’s important to keep both appearance and functionality in mind.  Tailor your office space to your occupation!  If you’re a psychologist, a design plan that evokes a calm and soothing environment is really what you’re after.  For an interior designer like me, creative items like fabric samples and story boards would be my ideal working space to keep my inspired.

But in reality, an office space can’t just be pretty – it has to be functional too!  This spring, the most popular comment we received as people walked through the office CW&I designed for the Mansion in May was, “I could get a lot of work done here.”  What was it about this space that generated this reaction?

Color plays a huge role in improving productivity in that it has the ability to change your mood and with the right color it can energize you to get your work done.  In particular, yellows are known for enhancing intelligence and mental agility.  Their bright tones are often associated with happiness and can even increase your focus throughout the day.

Lighting is another key element of productivity in the workplace.  A well-lit, illuminated space is ideal for maximum efficiency and can be achieved with task lighting and reflective surfaces.  If possible, incorporate natural lighting into your office space.  In addition, the ability to look out a window every once and awhile enhances productivity by allowing for quick breaks during the day.

Finally, keeping your office space organized is the only way to ensure efficiency and functionality.  Similar to a kitchen, use the “triangle rule” in your office by arranging the things you use most often – a computer, printer, and file cabinet, for example – into an easily usable triangular shape.  Be sure to keep your desk clean and find a place for everything; by utilizing bins, folders, baskets, and the like, you can eliminate clutter and alleviate stress in your office.

This new year, redesign your office so that it is a space that makes you feel good.  Not only will you be more productive in the office you have designed, but your new space will be a true representation of your and professionalism!